Today is day five of our hotel adventure and day two of our girlies napping as usual. We have settled into our own routine. This week I am hoping to take the girls out on a few mini-adventures over the next few days. It has been interesting to see how we have all adapted to our new environment.
Our biggest struggle so far has been teaching our girls a completely new set of boundaries. Our hotel room is not childproof. Our girls had to learn what areas of our rooms were off limits and what areas they are free to explore and play in. In some ways this has been difficult. At home, we have well-established boundaries and the girls know the boundaries and, for the most part, are content to stay within those boundaries (ahem, pots and pans cupboard). There are also areas at home where we can store things that are inaccessible to the girls (at least for now). Here every cabinet and storage space is easily accessible, except for the kitchen cabinets above the stove. Frankly, I have a tough time reaching those as well since I am short. We have had to come up with some creative ways of storing things that are usually out of our girls’ reach, such as razors, vitamins, and such.
Prior to this trip, I somehow forgot how crazy life can be when in a new living environment with little ones. When we visit relatives or friends, usually they have taken some steps to ensure the rooms we will be in are somewhat childproof. But, here potential hazards seem to lurk around every corner. When our girls are awake I have had to diligently watch them. Thankfully, this is not hard since our square footage is limited. There are not many places they can go where I cannot see them. Still, it reminds me of the days when our oldest daughter was little and we were just discovering what we needed to do to childproof our home in conjunction with working with our daughter to teach her where she could or could not venture.
I do have a small toy area set up for the girls in our room. I decided to bring only a few toys: blocks, books, and a few dolls. I figured we would keep it simple and all of those items can be used in multiple ways. I also brought along alphabet cards and a matching game to pull out on special occasions. Everything can be stored neatly (dolls end up in bed with the girls just about every night, blocks in their box and books in their bag). This has made clean-up time quick and easy for the girls.
Our youngest daughter (21 mo.) has gotten too big to sleep comfortably in a pack and play. So, for this trip, we decided to get a toddler air mattress for her. It is the first time she has slept in anything like this. At home, she is still in her crib. The air mattress is like a typical air mattress, but it has built in rails on it. We are planning to transition her over to a big girl bed once we return home and were hoping this would be a good way of training her to stay in her own bed. At first, she was confused and did not understand she was supposed to sleep on the mattress. After she understood she was supposed to sleep on it, she happily realized she could get on and off the mattress at will. She thought (and still sometimes thinks) it is hilarious to escape off her mattress. The first night or two, I thought it was not going to work out. But, we continued to work with her and she is slowly but surely understanding the concept of staying put and sleeping on her own bed. Our other daughter has been happily sleeping on the pullout couch without any trouble. Both girls and the puppy have taken a few days to get back into their normal sleep patterns.
I did not think that moving into a smaller space would require more effort on our end to keep things tidy. But, it does. It forces us to clean up all the time or it incredibly chaotic. With only four place settings, dishes must be done after every meal and usually after snack time. With only two burners, one skillet and one saucepan, meal prep must be completed as planned (yes, burner and pot usage needs to be planned in advance most of the time) or the meal is ruined. Beds must be set up and taken down each day. Books and toys must be put away or there is no place to eat. We have discovered living in a small space demands round the clock tidiness.
So here at the end of day five, I find myself thankful for many things about this trip:
I am thankful for the ability to learn new things and grow where God has me.
I am thankful our family can be together.
I am thankful for made-to-order omelets each morning.
I am thankful for an unlimited supply of coffee.
I am thankful for meeting new people and the kindness of strangers (and hotel employees).
I am thankful for a warm pool and a renewed passion for swimming laps.
I am thankful for small treasures found in precious moments- snowflakes atop my daughters hair, the soft snore of my child finally falling asleep after fighting a valiant fight to stay awake, and the warm rays of sunshine as a cold spell finally comes to an end.